Northern Ireland convenience chain Centra plans to open 20 new stores this year.

The company currently has 473 shops and, as part of its expansion plans, will invest £22.8m (€27m) in refurbishing its estate of franchise and company-owned stores.

Centra also increased annual sales by 4% year on year in 2019 to £1.4bn (€1.7bn). The growth was attributed to increased demand for food to go and trends such as vegan and vegetarian diets.

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Centra managing director Martin Kelleher said: “People increasingly view Centra as a destination shop, so we’re seeing increased footfall as groups of consumers eat together in store or do top-up shops. 

“We are rolling out healthy ranges and working to ensure our customers have great experiences in our stores.”

Steve Denham visits a Centra convenience store in Cork